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The aftermath of the Mitchell Report

The schedule suggests I should post the next part of the look back at the community projections today - specifically, covering the outfielders. However, I think it's probably best to leave this day entirely to the Mitchell report and its aftermath, and return to our regularly scheduled ranting tomorrow. So, instead, here are a few thoughts on what it contained.

Though a number of Diamondbacks were listed in the report, most of them were minor bit players, such as Ron Villone, who made fifteen relief appearances for the Tucson Sidewinders in 2003. But it certainly puts Alex Cabrera's rapid departure for Japan in an interesting light. We were there at the BOB [on the balcony at Friday's Front Row Grill, actually] when he homered in his first major-league at bat, though that now takes on more of a bitter taste than a celebratory one. Stephen Randolph's presence was definitely a surprise: in 2004 he walked 76 hitters faster (81.2 innings) than any pitcher in baseball history, bar Ken Wright (82 BB, 80.2 IP, 1973), which goes to show that PEDs won't help if you can't pitch worth a damn

Matt Williams is probably the biggest D-backs name mentioned, but there isn't anything significantly new in the allegations. Ditto Troy Glaus, where the report largely recounts the Sports Illustrated piece on him, without adding much new to report. Looking at the names, it's clear that steroid use was as much for those at the bottom of the heap, seeking to break into or stay in the major-leagues as at the top. Despite having more than half a roster's worth mentioned by name, the team's response to the report was, inevitably, bland:

We are in full support of Senator Mitchell's findings and of the Commissioner's recommendations. We look forward to the industry putting this chapter behind us, as we turn the page towards a bright future. We are pleased to learn that our testing measures have been effective, and are hopeful that this will allow us to continue the education and prevention process that is so important for all sports and all youth.

Outside of Arizona, the apparently utterly damning evidence against Roger Clemens leaves us with the sad situation that the best hitter and, arguably, best pitcher of this era are both frauds and cheats. The parallels between the two are obvious: both were immensely talented athletes, who would probably have made it to the Hall of Fame on their own merits. But that wasn't enough for them. They chose to consider themselves above the rules and opted to prolong their careers, instead of accepting the inevitable decline of age.

I did look in to seeing who came out on top when the Ultimate PED Hitter faced the Ultimate PED Pitcher. But I was surprised to find Bonds came to the plate a mere eight times against Clemens in their 21 seasons together in the majors. That seems freakishly low - to put it into context, it's the same number as Doug Davis. But in case you were wondering, Bonds never put the ball in play off the Rocket: two K's, five walks and an HBP. To paraphrase a baseball cliche, it looks like juiced pitching can probably beat juiced hitting.

It's important to note that this is likely not a full accounting. Mitchell never requested the names of players implicated in the ongoing investigation of the illegal distribution of steroids by Signature Pharmacy down in Florida. And that's also excluding all the players who, in the words of Yahoo's Jeff Passan, "happened to choose dealers who weren't stupid enough to get caught by the government." So this will continue to rumble on, but this is about the first time that any official source has named names, so it's a start to the cleansing process at least. Mitchell does come up with some recommendations, but I can't say I'm impressed. I mean. "Prominently Display Posters About Performance Enhancing Substance Use Prevention"? The demand for independent, transparent, year-round, unannounced testing is good...but then it appears Barry Bonds was warned of drug tests in advance.

Where do we go from here? We'll see. Is the game cleaner now? Hard to say. But I notice that this year, there were on 4,957 homers hit during the regular season, a drop of 10% from six seasons ago, when Bonds hit 71 and there were 5,458 all told. This year, only six men hit more than 35 homers; in 2001, there were twenty-three - including Rich Aurilia (37 - next best season, 23), Luis Gonzalez (57/31) and Barry Bonds (73/46). I guess this suggests that whatever drugs are being taken, they do not appear to be increasing home-run totals in quite the same way. On a day like today, I'll take my comfort wherever I can find it, thank you very much.